Motorist Found At Fault for BC Car Crash Despite Being Rear-Ended
Further to my previous posts on this topic, the law is clear that a motorist who is rear-ended by another can be found at fault. Such an outcome is somewhat unusual but given the right circumstances it can occur. Reasons for judgement were released to today demonstrating this.
In today’s case (Cue v. Breitkreuz) the Plaintiff’s vehicle was involved in a rear-end collision. He testified that he was rear-ended by the Defendant while he was stopped waiting to make a left hand turn. An independent witness contradicted this account and testified that “the Plaintiff’s car accelerated, moved in front of the (defendant’s) truck, then slammed on the brakes” leaving the defendant with “(no) chance to stop before sliding into the plaintiff’s car”.
Mr. Justice Smith preferred the independent witness’ evidence over the Plaintiff’s and found the front motorist entirely at fault. In reaching this conclusion the Court gave the following brief but useful summary of the law:
 Where there has been a rear-end collision, the onus shifts to the following driver to show that he or she was not at fault: Robbie v. King, 2003 BCSC 1553 at para. 13. It is also the case that the driver of a following vehicle must allow a sufficient distance to stop safely in the event of a sudden or unanticipated stop by the vehicles ahead: Pryndik v. Manju, 2001 BCSC 502 at para. 21, aff’d 2002 BCCA 639; and Rai v. Fowler, 2007 BCSC 1678 at para. 30.
 On the evidence before me in this case, I find that the defendant has discharged the onus upon him. I find that the plaintiff, by changing lanes in the manner that he did, created the situation in which the defendant did not have a safe stopping distance behind the plaintiff’s vehicle. Had the plaintiff not stopped, the defendant would have had the opportunity to slow down and allow the distance between them to increase. But when the plaintiff stopped immediately following the lane change, the defendant had no chance to avoid the collision. The defendant had no reason, in the moments leading up to the accident, to anticipate the plaintiff’s lane change and stop.